Voice of Lebanon sings again

Farah El Alfy
4 Min Read

Nadina returns to Cairo to film a music video clip

CAIRO: Seven-year-old Nadine Zarifeh stood on a stage sang her heart out, moving 25 million viewers worldwide by her performance. The Lebanese girl was the first Arab to participate in the Zecchino d Oro festival held by UNICEF in Rome, 1986 and she crowned her achievement by winning first place.

Twenty years later, Nadina (her stage name) decided to return to the music world and release an album in Arabic, starting with a new version of the song that stirred so many people: Vola Vola, Palombella! (Fly, Fly, Bird of Peace!). The song is an Italian translation of Magda El-Roomy’s Arabic song of the same title, with one of the verses sung in Arabic.

She believes that the song has the same meaning now as it did 20 years ago. She is currently in Cairo to film a music video clip for her song.

Nadina wanted to start with this song as everyone knows it and remembers it. In 1986, the song became very popular and the catchy tune was like a shining light during the civil war in Lebanon. “For young children throughout the war, Vola, Vola, Palombella was sung as guns and bombs provided the background music, she says.

The year following the festival, Nadina was asked to perform at the opening and closing of the European academy awards, the Giffoni Film Festival.

Later in 1989, she was invited to Bulgaria to participate in the Banner of Peace where she was chosen to represent the “children of the world. She recalls, “A standing ovation followed my performance as ambassadors stood one by one to shake my hand as I left the stage.

Nadina put a great deal of effort into trying to raise money for the children and families suffering from the war in Lebanon. She regularly performed at charity events like the Lion s Clubs (UNICEF) and others. She once raised money to build a playground.

With the war only getting worse, in 1989 she fled the violence and moved to Canada with her family.

Although she continued to sing and play the piano regularly, her passion shifted to sports. At age 11, she was the third best swimmer in Canada for juniors and reached number one by the time she was 13. She continued to swim professionally for years, despite fracturing her back. In 1997 she competed in the Pan-Arab Olympics and won five bronze medals for Lebanon.

She retired from swimming at that point and concentrated on her next passion: computer programming. After working in the field for six years, she went back to music. Nadina first started working on an English album then decided to do an Arabic version.

Now, Nadina is ready to release her album, which she is independently producing with Farhan Umedaly who has been working with her on the Arabic album from the very beginning.

“My aim is to use my past experiences to help and encourage my audience. And to once again make a difference in their lives, she says.

Her album is to be released in the next couple of months and will be available at record stores internationally.

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